About this artwork

These illustrations were commissioned for an easy-to-use children’s translation of Virgil’s Eclogues. Wood engraving was a newly developed technique and Blake, then aged 64, had never before worked in the medium; the results are considered the greatest wood engravings by any British artist. The process is like woodcut, except that it uses a hardwood block, cut across the grain. This harder, denser surface allows greater intricacy and the use of finer tools. 

Updated before 2020

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William Blake

William Blake